LAPD Officer Accused Of Circulating Meme Mocking George Floyd’s Death Will Not Face Discipline
TOPSHOT - People gather at the unveiling of artist Kenny Altidor's memorial portrait of George Floyd - who died 25 May in Minneapolis with police officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on his neck for nearly nine minutes - painted on a storefront sidewall of CTown Supermarket on July 13, 2020 in Brooklyn, New York.
Photo by ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images

An internal disciplinary panel has found an LAPD officer not guilty of administrative charges after the individual was accused of violating department policy by circulating a social media meme around Valentine’s Day that mocked the death of George Floyd.

“The decision means the officer, a sergeant who works at the LAPD’s air support division, will not face termination, suspension, or other discipline, as was suggested would happen by Chief Michel Moore when word of the meme investigation became public earlier this year,” according to NBC4’s I-Team, which reported that “LAPD confirmed the finding on Tuesday.”

State privacy laws prevent the LAPD from identifying the officer.

An LAPD official described the image in question as “a photo of George Floyd, with the caption, ‘you take my breath away’ in a valentine format.”

Floyd died last year after Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes while Floyd repeatedly said, “I can’t breathe.”

The accused chose to have the case heard by three civilian panelists rather than two LAPD officers of the rank of captain or higher and one civilian.

“The Department respects the disciplinary process and will direct employees to a board of rights where it is believed that termination is the appropriate penalty,” the LAPD said in a statement issued on Tuesday.

More details from NBC4:

The not guilty decision was made by a panel of three hearing officers at a board of rights, which is an internal trial board that meets, nearly always in private with no outside observers, to consider allegations of misconduct leveled against LAPD officers.

The officer’s defense attorney did not immediately return messages for comment on the decision.

When the meme first became public the officers’ union, the Los Angeles Police Protective League, said in a statement the image was, “abhorrent,” and said whoever was responsible should be held accountable. The League has not commented on the board of rights decision.

News of the meme became public in February after an internal email was leaked to Jasmyne Cannick, an influential L.A.-based political strategist and media consultant who has worked with several elected officials, Black Lives Matter, and is well known for scrutinizing the LAPD.

“This only became public because an officer in the department reached out to me and gave me the email and asked me to get the word out because they felt the department wasn’t taking it seriously—and I did just that,” Cannick later posted on Twitter.

LAPD Chief Moore said the department had launched an internal investigation after an officer reported an inappropriate meme being “passed around” by colleagues. Moore said the probe reinforced the department’s “zero tolerance for anything with racist views.”

“I have no temperament or patience or allowance for them to remain in this organization,” Moore said at the time.

After identifying a single officer who allegedly shared the image, Moore said he wanted the individual fired but did not have that authority. He said the “most aggressive act” he could take was sending the case to the Board of Rights to decide whether a punishment was warranted.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Moore said he had been working with the district attorney’s office “to obtain a court order that would force Instagram to provide details about the individuals who operated a since-removed account called ‘Choir Practice.’” Moore claimed the account posted “racist and prejudicial posting and remarks.” The Times reported, “Moore said he was ‘a bit discouraged’ by a lack of progress in obtaining such an order, which has been difficult in part because the content on the sites, while offensive, is not criminal.’”

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